Former Iona athletes and college sweethearts, Bill '08 and Amanda '08 Pientka, are dedicating their lives to helping others. Bill, a biology and pre-med major, and Amanda, a sociology major, met when they were resident assistants during their junior year. The began dating in 2008, after going on an Iona mission trip to Ghana. Married in 2012, they have spent the last seven years building impressive and meaningful careers in medicine.
Bill earned his MD in 2012 from the University of Texas and completed a 5 year orthopedic surgery residency at John Peter Smith Hospital (JPS)/University of North Texas. He later returned to JPS hospital as an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery, after completing a fellowship. In February 2019, Bill was promoted to chief of hand surgery. He is also director of hand surgery education where he has also been involved in research, publishing numerous journals and textbooks, as well as presenting at many national and international conferences.
Amanda, who worked in an infectious disease research lab after graduating from Iona, also attended medical school at the University of Texas. She excelled, finishing at the top of her class and being awarded the Paul Cutler award for Clinical Excellence as she served as a lead mentor for students as well as being involved in medical school curriculum design. She graduated with her MD in 2015, then completed an emergency medicine residency at JPS Hospital, serving as chief resident. She was accepted into the prestigious Critical Care Medicine fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh Medical center, where she is currently completing her training while serving as chief safety and quality officer for the intensive care unit.
Bill, a track and field athlete, and Amanda, a rower, credit their passion and dedication to the sciences on the support they received while at Iona. They recall that their professors really engaged with them, investing time to understand each student’s talents and guide them towards their strengths.
Bill recalls, “The honors program at Iona provided life-long friends and an appreciation for art and history that stick with me to this day. I also always appreciated the energy and pride that Iona students and faculty showed, whether it was in the classroom or on the court/field. Iona always felt like a big family, nurturing and supporting its students to provide everything they need to excel.” Amanda adds, “My junior year I took an intro to infectious disease course – very different than what I was used to as a Sociology major. I fell in love with it, and my professor took notice. He pulled me aside one day after class and said ‘You’re good at this. You should do this.’ It changed the course of my education and subsequently, my career.”
As for advice to students, Bill says, “Iona is a great place to complete your undergraduate degree if you are interested in pursuing a career in medicine. The class sizes in the sciences were small and intimate which allowed for excellent personal interactions with professors.” Amanda adds, “Keep your eyes open – there are so many incredible people, and opportunities, in front of you. I remember my father saying, ‘You have four years here; all you have to do is make the most of them.’ I can’t think of better words for any future Gael. The years will go by fast – make every bit of them count.”